A major tourist destination in the high season, Vilanova i la Geltru is one of the Catalan towns that blends the old with the new. On one hand the coast is filled with everything you could hope for, to have a lively, buzzing holiday – from scuba diving, and horse riding, to plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and nightspots. But on the other hand there’s the well preserved old town, with some outstanding buildings and its medieval walls. Vilanova i la Geltru also has one of Catalonia’s longest, most gracious Ramblas, which takes you on an interesting walk of almost a mile, finishing up at Plaça de les Neus.
It’s also one of the towns that is especially lively when it comes to their festival calendar, and the carnival there is one of the top carnivals in Catalonia. Of course a relaxing holiday is helped by 3.5km of fine, sandy beaches, a generous dollop of good dining options, the sparkling Mediterranean sea and the azure blue sky. Its location makes it a perfect choice if you want to leave the beach for a day or two, to discover the wonders of cities such as Barcelona (30 minutes) and Tarragona (45 minutes).
But you really don’t need to venture out of Vilanova i la Geltrú at all, it’s a good sized town with plenty to while away a pleasant beach holiday. Its marina is considered to be in the top 10 most beautiful ports in Europe, partially due to its specialisation in super yachts. If you don’t happen to own one of this majestic super yachts (like me), you can certainly get up close and personal in the Vilanova i la Geltru marina, and then continue your gentle stroll down the promenade, breathing in the sea air and listening to the sound of chirpy parakeets overhead, as they play and fly from tree to tree.
The numerous parakeets that populate the palm trees of the promenade, inject an extra sense of fun and freedom into this lovely location. Their happy chirps seem to infuse the air with that great holiday feel. I spent quite a bit of time just listening to them above me in the trees, while looking at the beach, just underneath, which begins with an area that combines blades of grass with sand.
There are 5 beaches in total running along the coast of the city of Vilanova. The combined length of these beaches is 3.5km, which would run concurrently but the port separates two of them. Whether you are looking for a quiet spot to relax with a loved one, to spend some quality family time, or to take part in a beach based sporting activity or hire a boat – you will find everything you are looking for in Vilanova.
The beaches are typical of the Spanish Mediterranean coastline with wide expanses of fine, golden sand and the gentle slope down to the sea that ensures safe paddling and bathing. The majority of the beaches are easily accessible on foot but for the most easterly beach, Platja d’Ibersol public transport is recommended. You’ll find more information further below in the beaches section.
The wonderful atmosphere of Vilanova i la Geltrú is best absorbed by strolling the streets, plazas and squares. It seems rude not to take part in some retail therapy at the same time and shopping in the city is a delight. There are well over 700 shops here ranging from major global retailers to those one of a kind artisan stores which have been in the same family for generations. There is a vast choice of shopping opportunities available to visitors in Vilanova I la Geltrú and with the city centre being compact everything is within easy walking distance from the seafront and city centre. To make it easier for you to discern the best shopping areas for you we have split them into the three main categories.
This pedestrianised esplanade stretches for over 1km and is lined with hundreds of shops and pavement cafés. This is the main thoroughfare that connects the city centre to the sea front.
This charming pedestrian only lane is packed with boutiques and plazas. It is also rich in history and contains some of the city’s finest architecture. There are also numerous options for eating and drinking when you need a break from all the shopping.
If you are looking for a holiday destination the whole family can enjoy irrespective of age then Vilanova i la Geltrú ticks all the boxes. Apart from the wonderful beaches there is a host of things to do to keep both adults and children entertained. A trip here gives everyone the opportunity of not just experiencing the fabulous Mediterranean culture but actually live it.
This is something you should not miss when in Vilanova. Riding along the on a miniature train or locomotive is a sheer delight, but don’t be surprised if the children keep asking to go on again and again.
Trenet Turístico – Tourist Train
These tourist trains are evident in all the best Spanish resorts and are a great way to travel around Vilanova and see the areas you may not venture into. As well as taking you the full length of the magnificent promenade, Passeig Maritim, it takes you around all the places of note and those worth visiting in the town. Taking the train at the beginning of your trip, especially if you are a first time visitor, can give you an insight of what is on offer here and help you decide which areas you want to visit again.
The Culture of Vilanova i la Geltrú
There are many cultural activities within Vilanova which allow you to immerse yourself in both the medieval history and seafaring culture of the city. There is a wealth of opportunities on offer here where you do both of the above. There are immaculately preserved manors from the Modernist and Romantic eras. You can feast your eyes upon the works of art and artifacts which were brought back from the New World by the ‘Indianos’ who enjoyed spending their new found wealth. If you are a lover of trains then the Catalonia Railway Museum needs to be on your must visit list and those who prefer more contemporary pieces have more than enough opportunities at the many museums.
Things To Do
Adarró Archaeological Site
Take time to explore the ruins of the Iberian village which was built by the Cossetan tribe between the 5th and 1st centuries BC.
Masia D’en Cabanyes
On 11th March 2014, the Catalan Government declared the Masia D’en Cabanyes to be a historical monument of National cultural interest. A wonderful chance to take in the amazing art, rich history and beautifully landscaped gardens that are all part if this lovely neoclassical country manor. A fine representative of the Romantic era, this was once the home of Manuel de Cabanyes, the renowned poet. These days it is used for a range of purposes, and if you would like to find out more, you can go to the monument’s Facebook page, as below.
Vilanova i la Geltrú Beaches
The beaches of Vilanova are unique in the region surrounding Barcelona. Boasting 3.5km of wide beaches with the finest sand you will find anywhere, combined with the warm and tranquil waters – there’s no doubt that this is a magnificent stretch of coastline. Whether you are looking for family friendly beaches, fun in the water or complete peace and tranquility you will find it along the coast of Vilanova i la Geltrú. The special services, such as first aid and lifeguards, listed on all these beaches are available from the 15th May through to the 30th September.
The most westerly of the Vilanova beaches, Platja d’Ibersol is next to the municipal Cubelles area and precedes Platja de Sant Gervasi. 60% of this long stretch of beach is a protected, natural area and clearly marked as such. The other 40% of beach Ibersol has is for use by the public and is 700m in length by 40m wide and is a Blue Flag beach. This beach is best accessed by public transport.
Services on Platja d’Ibersol
Beach bar with terrace
Public showers and foot baths
1 first aid station
Platja de Sant Gervasi
This stretch of beach is located after Platja d’Ibersol at the western end of Vilanova near the main residential area of Santa Lucia and Adarró. It is fairly typical of what we have to expect of Spanish urban beaches with its soft sand and gentle slope into the water offering safe bathing for all ages. The beach is 250m in length and 50 metres wide, covering an area of around 12,500m2. It is easily accessible either on foot or by car as it has a large parking area.
Services on Platja de Sant Gervais
3 showers and foot baths
1 guard house
First aid centre
2 billboard information points
This family friendly beach sits between Sant Gervasi and Platja de Ribes Roges, or the Red Beach Shores . Much larger than its predecessor, it measures 780m by 99 metres covering an area of 77,200m2. Accessible on foot from anywhere in the city or by the city bus, there is also a controlled parking area for those who come in their car. Those wishing to leave the sand for a while have a lovely garden area to enjoy which has both palm trees and many other species of ornamental plant life.
Services on Platja d’Adarró
Beach bar with large outdoor terrace with tables and chairs.
Public toilets including a disabled facility
60 hammocks for public use
Area with tents
A sports zone with designated areas for football and volleyball.
22 showers and foot baths for the public’s use.
Platja de Ribes Roges
This lovely expanse of beach sits between Platja d’Adarró and the Vilanova marina. Soft sand, gently sloping, you know the score by now. The biggest expanse of beach in the city, the Red Beach Shores has a length of 1200m, a wide of 170m and covers an area of 204,000m2. Here are three lovely gardens here to enjoy a bit of peace and tranquillity beneath the shade of a palm tree. You can easily get to this beach from anywhere in the city either on foot or by using the local city bus. There is also private parking which is blue zone regulated.
Also on the promenade by the beach is a table tennis table, so a pretty cool place to play table tennis, under the palm trees, looking at the beach and sea!
Services on Platja de Ribes Roges
11 areas offering tents
375 sun loungers in designated areas
3 stalls that have a terrace with tables and chairs and each one has disabled toilet
3 areas with public toilets
Public showers and foot baths
3 areas for sporting activities; football, basketball and beach volleyball
2 surveillance and life guard houses
First aid facilities
Physical condition circuits
Platja del Far
Platja del Far, or Lighthouse beach of San Cristobal, is situated in the east of Vilanova on the opposite side of the the marina from Platja de Ribes Roges. 900m in length and 150m it is the second largest of the city’s beaches and benefits from the fact it is not in the centre of town. It is also the main beach for water sports facilities. Easily accessible on foot or public transport, those who want to bring their cars can make use of the private parking. As with the other beaches of Vilanova there is a lovely landscaped area to relax in with palm trees and other plant life.
Services on Platja del Far
Boat and canoe hire with buoys marking the output channel
Beach bar with terrace
Public toilets with a disabled facility
Public showers and foot baths
Designated sports area for volleyball, basketball and football
2 surveillance and lifeguard stations
1 first aid stations
2 local information points
Discover More Of Catalonia’s Best Beaches With Blue Flag Status
Victor Balaguer Museum and Library
One of the oldest museums in the region, this boasts an outstanding collection of local works, neoclassical sculpture, baroque paintings and other foreign artifacts. The latter includes one of the very few genuine Egyptian mummies that are on display in Catalonia.
Can Papiol Romantic Era Museum
A visit here gives you the chance to experience what every day life was like for the landed elite of Catalonia as this is the former home of one of the most influential, and richest, families in the region. The museum houses the original interiors and structures of the home which date back to the 18th century.
Catalonia Railroad Museum
Here you will find Europe’s largest, and finest, collection of steam powered locomotives. This museum invites you to relive the European history of rail travel right from its inception through to the present day. There are also several special activities on offer for the little ones.
Museum of the Sea
Dedicated to the great seafaring history of Vilanova, this museum contains an outstanding collection of fishing and seafaring artefacts. These include photos, models and equipment which all represent the long standing relationship between the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
La Sala Contemporary Art Centre
A large impressive space which is dedicated to both the support and exhibiting of new contemporary creativity. It also aims to encourage promote art in all of its many shapes and forms.
La Torre Blava – The Blue Tower
The Blue Tower was originally built back in the 19th century as the city’s main defence against attacks from the sea. It is now houses a permanent exhibition of artworks from the esteemed artist Josep Guinovart.
Where to Sleep
Where to Eat
Vilanova i la Geltru Market
The main weekly market in Vilanova is held on Saturday morning on Plaça Soler i Carbonell. You will find everything here from top quality meat and game to unique, hand crafted artisan items. There are several specialist markets held at various times through the year to keep an eye out for those during your stay here.
Vilanova i la Geltru Marina
In 2009 the Vilanova Grand Marina was opened as the first marina in the western Mediterranean specialising in super yachts services for boats from 25 to 120 metres. It’s equipped with high technology and advanced services, as well as international ISPS code above .
In the marina, there’s a comprehensive service which offers dry docking and a range of yacht preparation services, from a simple inspection, to antifouling application and hull cleaning, to a total refit. In the harbour you’ll find a lifeboat station, plus the headquarters of the local, large fishing fleet, which as you can imagine provides local sea offerings for the town’s seafood restaurants. The marina in the inner basin is set up for smaller shallower crafts, and this is operated by Club Nautic Vilanova.